Driving the America's Cup Camera Boat
Oceanmax managing director Clint Jones talks about his amazing experiences as a chase boat driver for the America's Cup, which took him around the world while enabling him to put Propspeed on the map.
In 2011, I was fortunate to realize my lifelong dream of being involved in the America’s Cup. Not only did I get a job with the America’s Cup but, in my opinion, one of the best jobs: I was skipper of the camera boat Cambria, the boat closest to the race boats, filming the action on the water. The boat was innovative in design and build, with amazing maneuverability and a very low profile to minimize wake disturbance for the race yachts.
As well as building the boat in Holland in 2011, I was involved in World Series events in Cascais, Portugal; Plymouth, UK; and San Diego. In 2012, we did events in Naples and Venice then went on to Rhode Island and San Francisco. That same year, the TV production team won an Emmy Award for Technical Achievement. In 2013, we ran another event in Naples before the countdown to the Cup Final in San Francisco and, as New Zealanders know, the fightback from Oracle USA that extended the event to a 9–8 score and a successful defense for the Americans.
With “the Cup” completed, I returned to New Zealand in March 2014 and was lucky to pick up my current role as managing director of Oceanmax, the developer and distributor of Propspeed. A fantastic marine product exported to 30 countries globally, Propspeed, along with my many worldwide marine contacts, has helped take Oceanmax on a ride toward rapid expansion, spreading the stellar performance of the foul-release product to propellers around the world.
In early 2015, I was again invited to be involved in the 35th America’s Cup. It was an easy decision to merge the constant traveling I do to sell Propspeed internationally with my continued involvement in one of sailing’s pinnacle events. This also meant that I was able to put Propspeed on a great “test bench”: Cambria, the camera boat. Last year, we did the Louis Vuitton World Series events in Portsmouth; Gothenburg, Sweden; and Bermuda, the location of the 2017 America’s Cup final.
This year, I've been part of events held in New York and Chicago. The New York event was surreal, sailing on the Hudson River in downtown New York, with the Statue of Liberty in view. More than 150,000 people watched “Super Sunday.” Seven-knot tides and light winds created challenging racing, with Emirates Team New Zealand taking the honors. Chicago represented a break in 165 years of tradition as the very first America’s Cup event to be sailed on freshwater, on Lake Michigan. Again, massive crowds watched from downtown Chicago's Navy Pier, and the event was broadcast worldwide, airing live during Sunday prime time in the US.
In August, I’ll be off on another “bucket list” event, the Rio Summer Olympics. I'll be on one of the camera boats for the sailing event, sending the TV signal to hundreds of countries and millions of viewers around the world. While in Brazil, I'll spend time with our enthusiastic local distributor and look to further expand our presence in the vast South American market.
I will continue to update our readers as we are involved in even more events in the coming year. If you’re a keen Propspeed user (or want to be) and you’re going to an America’s Cup event, let me know—I’ll give you a behind-the-scenes tour!
See you on the water.